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International

19/06/2019

Harley-Davidson has found a new partner in China as it ramps up efforts to sell more motorcycles abroad.

The manufacturer is to team up with Qianjiang to make a small motorcycle that will go on sale in the country next year. The relationship potentially gives Harley access to European assembly facilities and supply chain (in Italy), given Qianjiang owns Benelli.

For Harley, China is a major growth market. The company says sales in the country increased 27% in 2018 compared with the previous year.

Harley-Davidson wants half of its registrations to come from international markets by 2027 to offset declining US sales as its customer base there gets older.

The company has been increasing production in places like Thailand to make that happen, but tariffs have also played a role in its plans to make more bikes in Asia.

The company said last year it was moving some manufacturing to Thailand due to European Union tariffs on motorcycles shipped from the US. The European Union raised its 6% tariff to 31% last June in response to the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

The Thailand plant also makes motorcycles for sale in Asia. It will begin shipping motorcycles to China by the end of the year.

Harley's shift overseas has angered President Donald Trump, who last year encouraged consumers to boycott the company as a result.

It's not clear if the Harley to be made in China would have been subject to Chinese tariffs had it been manufactured in the United States.